Meet the Newcomers

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Freshman Kristin Carpenter

Freshman Kristin Carpenter

Sept. 8, 2009

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head Coach Russ Rose welcomes five newcomers to the 2009 Penn State women's volleyball team. The group includes junior Fatima Balza, a transfer from Western Nebraska Community College, junior Jessica Ullrich, a transfer from Purdue University and freshmen Darcy Dorton, Marika Racibarskas and Kristin Carpenter.

Darcy Dorton, Fr., Outside Hitter, Muncie, Ind.
Dorton comes to Penn State after a highly decorated high school and club career. A four-year letterwinner and two-year team captain at Delta High School, she also lettered in track during the 2006 school year. Dorton was a three-time AAU 18 Open All-American and a JVDA 18 Open All-American. In addition to captaining the Junior National Team that won the 2008 NORCECA Championship, Dorton was a member of the 2009 AAU 18 Open National Championship team and the 2009 JVDA 18 Open National Championship team.

1. What does it mean to you to play for Penn State?
"Playing volleyball at Penn State is unbelievable. No other program offers what Penn State has to offer. No other programs can match the intensity, competitiveness, passion, and tradition of excellence that the Penn State volleyball family, as a whole, possesses. There is so much pride in becoming a Penn State athlete, but especially in being a part of the volleyball program. It feels great to put on that Navy and White jersey and represent such an amazing place. I love it here."

2. What was preseason like?
"Preseason was a very intense, yet satisfying time. We practiced hard and often, and spent most of the down time resting. I was mentally and physically exhausted by the end, but for the majority of the time, I was happy with how practices were going. As time went on it was apparent how some individuals were improving and how the team was forming. It was good to see the team develop chemistry, learn to mesh together and feed off one another."

 

 

3. What is your favorite place on campus and why?
"I am in love with Rec Hall. In my eyes, it is the most beautiful gym in America. It has the perfect game atmosphere. I feel so much pride in being a part of the Nittany Lion Volleyball program when I see all the banners hanging, especially the National Championship banners. It is a constant reminder of why I'm here and what the goals are."

4. Who is the funniest person on the team?
"Everyone on the team is just crazy funny in their own way. Megan Hodge is absolutely hilarious and Ari (Arielle Wilson) has me cracking up all the time. We have a very comedic team, and you never know what is going to happen next. "

5. What is one of your goals for the season?
"The goal this year is the same as it has been for the past two seasons, to be the only team in the country to end their season with a win at the end of December. We knew that was the goal coming in and we have all been working hard everyday to achieve it. "

Kristin Carpenter, Fr., Back Row, Mechanicsville, Va.
Carpenter was a four-year letter winner at Hanover High School and helped guide her team to three straight district championships. She was a four-time First Team All-District, All-Central Region, All-Metro honoree and a three-time All-State selection. Carpenter was honored as a 2008 AVCA Under Armour All-American, the 2008 Virginia State Gatorade Player of the Year and was selected to Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50.

1. What does it mean to you to play for Penn State?
"I couldn't have asked for a better family than the one that I've been accepted into here. It has always been a dream of mine to play here and be apart of a team like this. Besides getting into the sport of volleyball, deciding to come to Penn State has been the best decision of my life."

2. What was preseason like?
"Because I prepared myself for the absolute worst, it wasn't that bad! "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi helped Nummy (Alyssa D'Errico) and I whenever we needed a pick-me-up."

3. What is your favorite place on campus and why?
"The marble seating area right outside the Willard Building is hands down my favorite place on campus. I'm really big into people watching and I could probably sit out there all day long and never have a dull moment."

4. Who is the funniest person on the team?
"Katie Kabbes cracks me up! Between her crazy comments and her exceptional dance moves, I could just spend all day with her and be completely entertained. She's absolutely hilarious."

5. What is one of your goals for the season?
"I honestly just want to get better. The upperclassmen are perfect examples and the coaching staff provides all of the knowledge for me to become a better player. I'm going to soak it all up while I can."

Marika Racibarskas, Fr., Setter, Chatham, N.J.
Racibarskas joins the Nittany Lion program after leading her Chatham High School squad to a scholastic record of 99-12. She was a three-time First Team All-Area, All-County and All-State Group II honoree and was a two-time PrepVolleyball.com High School All-American. In addition, Racibarskas was a 2008 New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year Finalist and was named to Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50.

1. What does it mean to you to play for Penn State?
"Every day I walk into the gym, I realize how much of an honor it is playing for Penn State and how many girls would do anything to be in my shoes."

2. What was preseason like?
"My roommate Kristin (Carpenter) and I were told plenty of stories from past preseasons, so we basically prepared for the worst every day. I'm a proud survivor."

3. What is your favorite place on campus and why?
"I have yet to find a favorite spot on campus, but this summer in my English 015 class, we sat on Old Main lawn twice. I was physically in the middle of this busy campus, but at the same time I felt completely relaxed and isolated."

4. Who is the funniest person on the team?
"The entire sophomore class takes the cake on this one. There is no explanation necessary. These girls are simply hilarious together."

5. What is one of your goals for the season?
"A few goals I have are to keep digging balls and to avoid the occasional head shot at practice from Megan (Hodge)."

Fatima Balza, Jr., Middle Hitter, Merida, Venezuela
Balza transferred to Penn State for her junior season after spending two years at Western Nebraska Community College. After starting to play volleyball at age 12, Balza soon moved from her hometown to Caracas, Venezuela to train with the National Team. She captained the Venezuelan Junior National Team in 2006. At WNCC, Balza was the 2007 Freshman of the Year Region IX after helping her team win the NJCAA National Championship. During her sophomore season, Balza was the Region IX MVP and garnered First Team All-America honors.

1. What does it mean to you to play for Penn State?
"Playing for PSU represents my dream! In Venezuela, I had to choose between school and volleyball because it is impossible to play for the National Team and have time to study. At first I chose volleyball, and I didn't study for three years. Then I decided that I needed to study because volleyball is a short career, but I still wanted to play. My dream was get a scholarship to a good university with a good volleyball program. PSU is my dream come true. Playing for PSU means effort, smart decisions, dedication, focus and happiness, not only in volleyball but also in school."

2. What was preseason like?
"Pre-season was all about volleyball. We didn't have time to do anything else. It was eat, sleep, and play volleyball. The very first week of preseason I was really sore, practices were hard and I felt very tired. Even when preseason was hard for me, I loved it because I realized how hard I have to work to play here. I realized that I'm not at a junior college anymore. Preseason helped me to set my goals for this season."

3. What is your favorite place on campus and why?
"My favorite place on campus is the HUB. I really like this place because the concept of "Student Union" is new for me. Before I came here, I was at a junior college and it was a small school. We didn't have anything like that. I'm from Venezuela and I don't think any university has a student union. We may have some places to hang out but nothing like the HUB."

4. Who is the funniest person on the team?
"I think everybody in the team is funny. Of course some people more than other such as Katie Kabbes and Kristin Carpenter. They always say or do something to make the team laugh."

5. What is one of your goals for the season?
"My goal for this season is be the best player I can be. It is not an easy goal because it is going to take me time and a lot of effort, but in order to achieve my goal I set small goals first. Step by step I hope to get better and help the team as much as I can."

Jessica Ullrich, Jr., Defensive Specialist, Winfield, Ill.
Ullrich joined the program after two seasons at Big Ten rival Purdue. Last season, Ullrich played in all 35 matches at defensive specialist. She served up 24 aces and recorded double-digit digs on eight occasions. During her freshman season, Ullrich played in 26 matches and totaled 141 digs for the season. In high school, Ullrich was a three-time all-conference selection and a two-time all-area honoree.

1. What does it mean to you to play for Penn State?
"It means everything to me. It means that the hard work has paid off and that there is a so much more ahead of me to learn and be a part of. Opportunity of a lifetime!"

2. What was preseason like?
"An adventure of about a million different emotions. Fun, hard, exciting, exhausting, rewarding, HOT, long, short, and everything else in between."

3. What is your favorite place on campus and why?
"Our locker room during our frequent jam sessions. Woot woot!"

4. Who is the funniest person on the team?
"Depends on the day and the way that persons feeling. Katie (Kabbes) when she's telling childhood stories specifically dealing with tornados, (Heather) Tice and Cathy's (Quilico) movie quotes that I never understand, Megan's (Hodge) facial expressions (priceless), Arie's blunt honesty...gotta love it, Megan's (Shifflett) nickname, Carp's (Kristin Carpenter) speeches (I love people!), Nummy's sporadic rebellion, Alisha's (Glass) impressions, Fati's (Fatima Balza) foreign moments, Kelsey's (Ream) "stanky leg", Blair's (Brown) reaction to improper grammar, Darcy's (Dorton) sunglasses swag, and Marika's (Raciarskas) run DMC's headphones. Yup, everyone's a winner!"

5. What is one of your goals for the season?
"To make the team better in whatever ways I can contribute!!"

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